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"Dopesick" is an ineffective prescription for telling the story of the opioid crisis

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Perhaps the most effective props in "Dopesick" are the laminated illustrations of the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, friendly smiley faces that were originally created for use in pediatric medical settings. Reducing pain to a cartoon scale — with ratings falling between a green, grinning "No Pain" circle and a red, weeping "Worst Pain Possible" drawing — were a crucial part of Purdue Pharma's plan to put a friendly face on its highly addictive painkiller OxyContin. When a doctor pulls one out to show a patient, that's a warning flag that life for that person is about to get a whole lot worse.

The pain rating scale's frequent appearances also provide regular reminders of the moderate discomfort created by this viewing experience, but only in its most affecting scenes. In the main, watching the eight-episode limited series is numbing. That's not a feeling a show like this should engender in viewers.

Anyone committed to watch "Dopesick" should expect a tough viewing experience, since it endeavors to show us how our opioid crisis came to be. But while Danny Strong's adaptation of Beth Macy's New York Times bestseller "Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America" provides an adequate explainer of the epidemic's nascency, its hyperactive leapfrogging between 1986 and the early-to-mid aughts is needlessly baffling.

"Dopesick" debuts months after a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Purdue's plan to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits by the Sackler family contributing about $4.5 billion of their own cash, selling their pharmaceutical holdings, and forfeiting their equity in Purdue.

In exchange, members of the family will receive lifetime immunity from civil lawsuits over their role in promoting and encouraging........

© Salon

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